Kaua‘i, state officials react to Connecticut tragedy

LIHU‘E — Gov. Neil Abercrombie ordered flags in the state to be flown at half-staff in light of the tragedy that occurred Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr, along with the Kaua‘i County Council, the Kaua‘i Police Department and the State Department of Education join together to offer the community a sense of unity and security during this difficult time.

“While this tragedy may have occurred many miles away,” Kauai County Chair Jay Furfaro said in an email, “it hits home for each of us and our hearts ache for the families of the many innocent people killed today.”

He added that while people may feel helpless in this situation, everyone needs to stand together in unity and do everything in our power to ensure Kaua‘i’s residents, “especially our children,” are safe from random acts of violence.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to the people of Newtown,” Congresswoman Mazie Hirono said in a statement. “Let us now unite as a nation to support the families, students, teachers and staff affected by this senseless act.”  

Hirono said she was joining President Barack Obama in expressing heartfelt grief and in asking the country to come together to take meaningful action to ensure this type of tragedy does not happen again.

“My prayers go out to the victims and their families of the terrible senseless shooting in Connecticut. Our nation stands with you,” U.S. Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard tweeted.

 The State Department of Education works year-round with local and statewide law enforcement agencies, first responders, elected officials and community partners to create, implement and practice safety plans for various unexpected scenarios, including an active shooter event.

Friday morning, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness Branch met with Honolulu Police Department officials to review security procedures for the state’s public schools regarding the situation in Connecticut.

“All of Hawai‘i’s public schools have emergency procedures in place and today our teams revisited those procedures with a heightened awareness,” Hawai‘i Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a statement.

While this tragedy is incomprehensible, Matayoshi added, all of our schools have counseling services available for students, parents, and teachers who may need them.

 “Our deepest sympathy goes out to the families of the victims and all those who are suffering as a result of this tragedy,” Bill Arakaki, superintendent of the Kaua‘i Complex Area said.

Arakaki said the safety of children is the number one priority of Kaua‘i’s schools and that everyone in the educational system wants children, parents and educators to feel safe as schools are a place of learning and nurturing.

“We work very hard to ensure they remain a place without fear,” he said.

The Kaua‘i Police Department has specially assigned officers, known as school resource officers, assigned to each of Kaua‘i’s three public high schools.

These officers have a permanent presence in our schools and work closely with administrators, teachers and students to prevent and prepare for any event that might threaten the safety and security of the children.

“We are extremely saddened by the events that have occurred today and want to send a strong message to our community that while we live in a place that is overwhelmingly safe and friendly, as law enforcement officers, we do not and cannot take that for granted,” Kaua‘i Police Chief Darryl Perry said.

Perry said his officers and staff members must be prepared for the unimaginable, adding, “our officers are trained and dedicated to protecting each and every member of our community.”

It is a message that reaches far beyond our school system, Carvalho said in a statement.

“We deserve to feel safe in our schools, in the workplace and in our homes and I want to thank everyone who works together to make Kaua‘i the beautiful place that it is,” he said.

Carvalho added that, “while we cannot change the outcome of what has occurred today, we can work to discourage violence around us and cultivate gratitude, peace and love in our everyday lives, particularly at this time of year when our focus should be on the health and well-being of our family and loved ones and expressing our joy and gratitude for each other.”

This weekend marks the start of the winter break for Hawai‘i’s public schools.

If parents or students need counseling services during this time, contact your school or call the DOE for assistance at (808) 586-3232.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.